Dear Heloise: I have always enjoyed shopping at outlet stores, but I’ve learned a few things about them, and I’ve come up with some hints to share:
▪ The majority of items in the outlet stores these days aren’t leftovers from the company’s mainstream retail store; they were made for the outlet — made so they can be sold at a lower price. There may be quality differences.
▪ I look for items off-season. This time of year, I’ll shop for swimsuits and shorts sets. In the spring, it’s sweaters and winter coats.
▪ I get on the mailing lists of the stores I like. They email me special promotions.
▪ Outlet stores and malls can get packed with people. I try to shop on the off days, like Wednesday mornings.
▪ The best bargains are on the clearance racks — these usually are in the back of the store.
I can save money at the outlet store, but it comes at a price! — Cindy D. in Texas
Dear Heloise: I work for a well-known charity group. We accept donations of clothes, shoes, toys, household items, etc., that we resell to the public.
I’d like to ask your readers to please donate items that are clean and in good condition, and in season (if possible).
If you have clothing that is stained or overly worn, you can donate it, because we can sell that to a different agency or use it for different purposes. Place these items in a separate bag or box. — Julie W. in Texas
Hi, Heloise: I just wanted to pass on a hint regarding foundation that your readers may like. I can’t believe this is something I just started doing in my mid-50s.
If you are a foundation user, it can be hard to find the right shade. If this happens, you can just mix the shade you have with one that’s a little lighter or darker, and with a little practice, you should be able to come up with your perfect shade. — Beth in Litchfield, Conn.
Dear Heloise: Would you advise me on the best thread count for sheets (cotton or polyester)? Also, I had a problem with towels in the past. They just don’t seem to last long. — Sandra L., via email
Dear Sandra: Thread count determines the softness, and the best range is 400 to 800 thread count. But be sure to look at the fabric as well. Egyptian and Pima cotton are the best choices. Read the labels for washing instructions, and to prevent “pilling” on your sheets, never wash with your towels. Use medium heat to dry the sheets. A hot temperature also will cause pilling, and is hard on the fabrics. Expensive sheets are not necessarily the best quality, either.
As for towels, look for thickness and softness. Wash in cold water and use a medium (not hot) dryer. Also, use the manufacturers’ recommended amount of detergent. — Heloise
Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.